SOURCE: Caregiver Village

Caregiver Village

October 26, 2011 15:21 ET

Expert Offers Relief for Home-Caregiver Stress

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - Oct 26, 2011) - With more than 65 million Americans providing care at home for loved ones, Sharon Brothers of Caregiver Village (www.caregivervillage.com) says stress relief is becoming an increasingly critical issue. Studies cite family caregiving as one of the most stressful "occupations" in the country today.

"When you have a bad job in a toxic workplace, you feel trapped, but you can always try to find another job," says the veteran social worker whose new on-line community provides resources, book clubs and even an interactive "Second Life" type game for caregivers.

"Caregivers, however, can't just find another role. And they live day and night with the stress."

They are often reluctant to make time for themselves, which is crucial, Brothers says. The sense of obligation to their loved one makes them feel guilty when they try to take a break.

That can lead to health issues, a decline in the quality of the care they provide, and even lost productivity at outside jobs. Which all adds up to even more stress.

What does she tell caregivers?

  • Your Stress is Your Loved One's Stress -- While caregivers have to help family members with their illnesses, they don't realize that stress is an illness, too. Moreover, when they are stressed out, they can't function at their peak, resulting in a reduced ability to provide care.
  • Guilt Creates Resentment -- Feeling guilty about taking a little time each week to decompress only generates resentment toward the one you are caring for. That can defeat the purpose, because neither you nor they will be happy.
  • You'll enjoy caregiving so much more -- Taking a break will give you a renewed sense of energy and purpose, helping you enjoy caregiving even more. Your loved one will sense your increased enjoyment, too. No one wants to be a burden; increasing your enjoyment in caregiving means your loved one will feel more valued and less of a burden to you.

About Sharon Brothers

Executive Vice President of Caregiver Village, Sharon Brothers holds a Master's Degree in social work from the University of British Columbia. She built and managed some of the first specialty care centers for people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia in Washington and California, and recently developed an e-learning company for caregiving professionals. She works with family caregivers in Caregiver Village and at her community hospital.

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